Redevelopment plans for Niles’ Golf Mill Shopping Center advance; village, developer show united front

Redevelopment plans for Niles’ Golf Mill Shopping Center advance; village, developer show united front

Plans for redeveloping Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles got a boost Monday night as the mall’s owners and Niles officials showed a united front in presenting plans for a future retail, residential and entertainment complex, saying demolition of the current indoor mall could start as early as next year.

Top executives from Florida-based Sterling Organization, which bought Golf Mill in 2014, joined Niles Mayor George Alpogianis at an open house held in the mall’s center court, which will be torn down. The plans call for an open-air shopping center with a pond and a replica of Golf Mill’s original water wheel in a central area, situated near curated, non-chain restaurants and flanked by lifestyle stores.

The mayor and Niles officials stressed they have developed a TIF (tax increment financing) arrangement that will not put taxpayers’ dollars at risk.

“There will not be a tax increase,” Alpogianis said. “There will be zero risk to our taxpayers.”

The next step in the process will occur if the village board approves, at its June 25 meeting, a redevelopment agreement with Sterling.

Under the proposed plan to bring about the redevelopment, the village will offer Sterling $96 million in tax increment financing for the first phase of a two-phase construction process. The village board approved a term sheet, the first step in the redevelopment process, in September 2023.

Brian Kosoy, CEO of Sterling Organization, said after the meeting that he expects that the current name-brand businesses already invested in the mall, such as Target, Panera and others, will be attractive when his organization seeks financing for the project.

“I think this is a highly finance-able project,” he said. He noted that Sterling owns other sizable shopping centers around the nation and has eight properties in the Chicago region.

Dustin Hicks, Sterling’s managing director of development and construction, showed slides of the proposal to the audience of about 100, saying, “Phase One of the project is a demolition of a large portion of the existing mall, certainly where you are all sitting tonight, including all interior common areas as well as the iconic office tower.”

He also anticipated at least 500,000 square feet of new or renovated retail space, including some new outparcels, which are freestanding buildings on the edges of a mall’s parking lot, near the public street.

The AMC Niles 12 movie theatre will be demolished, but Target, Burlington, Ross, JC Penney, XSport Fitness, Gordon Food Service, Chick-fil-A, Panera and Chase Bank will stay, according to documents.

A rendering of the water feature at the Golf Mill Shopping Center. The village of Niles and Sterling Organization, the owner of Golf Mill hosted an Open House of the upcoming renovations at the mall on June 10, 2024. (Credit: Richard Requena)

The first phase will also create a central plaza as the mall rebrands itself, Hicks said. He expects that a pond with a replica of the original Golf Mill water wheel near a pavilion with green spaces, located near two curated restaurants, will become a gathering space for the community. 

Hicks said Sterling has not yet chosen a builder for the project, but expects to do so after the village formally approves the redevelopment agreement.

The village of Niles expects that Sterling will invest $440 million for the entire renovation, including $204 million for the first phase of renovation, according to previous reporting.

Alpogianis said that the village’s investment in the project is risk-free to taxpayers because it is done with performance-based tax increment financing. Once the first phase of renovations is completed and the Cook County tax assessor revalues the property at a higher value, the plan calls for the village to pay Sterling tax increment financing bonds on the increase in value and reimburse Sterling up to $96 million, according to documents.

Niles Mayor George Alpogianis at an Open House addressing the public about the incoming redevelopment at Golf Mill mall. (Credit: Richard Requena)

The redevelopment plan includes building 900 luxury apartments near Greenwood Avenue on the west end of the mall property. The first phase plans for 300 units near Greenwood and Church Street, including a mix of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units. An additional 600 units are slated to be created in the second phase.

In the retail portion of the renovated Golf Mill, Hicks said developers will seek tenants such health and beauty stores, apparel retailers, home accessories retailers, entertainment and other specialty retailers.

They will also seek restaurants, both sit-down and fast casual, national and locally curated.

The public had a chance to see renderings of what the Golf Mill Shopping Center could look like after renovations are completed at a June 10, 2024 Open House hosted by the Village of Niles and Sterling Organization, Golf Mill’s developer and owner.  (Pam DeFiglio, Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press)

John Melaniphy, the village’s economic development director, said he doesn’t anticipate children moving into the rentals, and thus he doesn’t expect them to burden school districts in the area, Maine East School District 63 and Maine Township High School District 207. He said when the tax increment financing district expires in 2041, D207 will get 13% of the tax increment and D63 will get 27% of the tax increment. The library is expected to get a 2% tax increment.

The second phase will also include construction of a 60,000-square-foot medical office and retail building and a 250-room hotel, according to Hicks.

Sterling Organization CEO Brian Kosoy, at right, speaks to an audience member at an Open House regarding future plans for Golf Mill Shopping Center on June 10, 2024. (Pam DeFiglio, Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press)

Presuming the Niles Village Board approves the redevelopment agreement, Sterling will have to go through the regular Planned Unit Development and Zoning approval process the village requires for all developments. Those plans will be more detailed and will be reviewed by the village’s community development department and ultimately approved by the Board of Trustees. Sterling has a two-year deadline to begin construction once the redevelopment agreement gets approved, and is eligible for a one-year extension.

“For years, Golf Mill has been known to be more than just a shopping center: Families have celebrated traditions there; people of all ages have congregated there; and our businesses have thrived there, but for too long empty rhetoric and inaction of village leaders resulted in Golf Mill’s slow decay,” said Alpogianis. “This is an exciting time for our village.”

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